I am very aware and accepting of the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. I feel that it should be common knowledge that there is no one correct way to maintain something as complex and versatile as the human body, but it seems that this is scarcely known. I know in my own experience, I have heard these following phrases all too often:
“Don’t eat that. You don’t want to gain weight!”
“A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”
“Don’t you want to be skinny for bikini season?”
These phrases are all damaging on their own, but one key issue is that they are usually followed by this well meaning, but ignorant statement:
“I just want you to be healthy.”
Perhaps that is true, but the people saying these things seem to be extremely uneducated about health. Repeat after me; healthy is not synonymous with skinny. Don’t get me wrong, there are many healthy skinny people, but not everyone’s body is designed to be thin and petite. Not only does this notion that healthy means skinny cause physical health problems, it is also damaging to one’s mental health.
Convincing someone that they are only healthy if they are skinny can cause behavior such as obsessive calorie counting and exercise, skipping meals, binging, and purging. Eating disorders are a growing problem, and we are encouraging them by convincing people that there is only one body type. Eating disorders can result in physical problems such as dehydration, low heart rate, ulcers, and osteoporosis. Mental issues such as depression and anxiety can also develop as a result of constantly shaming someone for their body. By telling people that their ultimate goal should be to be skinny and an unrealistic definition of healthy, we are actually telling them to sacrifice their bodies and well-being to look a certain way.
If you are someone who uses healthy and skinny interchangeably, please think about what you are actually saying, and about the consequences of your words.
If you have been the victim of this type of body shaming, please make your health and happiness your main goal. The people who have made you feel bad about not looking a certain way might not even realize how damaging their words are. I would suggest you talk to them about this situation. They may or may not change their actions, but I would like you to remember one thing; you can’t control the way people treat you, but you can control how you deal with the situation. Take the high road, and focus on being the healthiest and happiest version of yourself as possible.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please click here.
Stay strong and be kind always.